LA Unified has reached a $9.5 million settlement with the parents of a 12-year-old boy who died after running laps at Dodson Middle School in Rancho Palos Verdes, the family’s attorneys said Wednesday.
The boy’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against the school district on March 29, 2019, alleging that staff failed to follow procedures that could have saved their son’s life.
The parties reached the agreement several months before the trial, said Bruce Broillet, an attorney representing the family.
“Los Angeles Unified takes the health and safety of our students very seriously,” said a LAUSD spokesman. “We cannot comment on ongoing or pending litigation.”
The boy’s parents claimed LAUSD was negligent when they failed to immediately call 911 and take life-saving measures until paramedics arrived, including performing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator.
“You remain devastated by the loss of your son,” the attorney said. “Having a child is like having your heart running around outside your body and they feel that loss every day.”
On March 6, 2018, the boy ran four laps around the school track. When he was done, he sat down on the grass with two friends and lay on his back. When a teacher told the students to drink water, the boy didn’t get up with everyone else. His friends told their teacher that he “didn’t look well,” according to the process brief.
According to the process, the two physical education teachers present saw that the boy was unconscious but breathing. No one called 911 and no one performed CPR or applied an AED before paramedics arrived, although both were trained how to do it.
In 2018, LAUSD officials said in a statement that the boy received immediate care from the school nurse and paramedics and that the boy was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
However, Broillet said Dodson Middle School has an unusual policy that requires employees to ask the front office to call 911 instead of calling themselves.
That resulted in a six to eight minute delay before 911 was called. It also prevented operators from instructing gym teachers on how to treat the boy while they waited for paramedics, Broillet said.
According to the trial report, the school nurse said she gave the boy chest compressions in the field. The nurse said she would stop the compressions when she noticed his breathing changing, rather than continuously giving compressions until paramedics arrived, as she had been taught.
There was also uncertainty as to whether the nurse was performing CPR. The deputy headmaster, identified as Mr Olmos at the hearing, reported watching the nurse perform eight compressions. A gym teacher said she saw the nurse give compression. The other gym teacher didn’t see the nurse giving the boy chest compressions.
The LA Fire Department said no CPR was given prior to their arrival.
Furthermore, according to the process description, the defibrillator was not requested by the physical education teachers or the school nurse. Mr Olmos requested it nine minutes after students informed teachers of the boy’s condition and it was not used.
According to lawyers, the nurse didn’t know the school had a defibrillator, even though she was the person who was supposed to inspect it daily.
Broillet said the boy has an undiagnosed heart condition, a congenital abnormality in a coronary artery that is treatable with surgery. Had LAUSD followed the guidelines and given the boy immediate care, he could have received the appropriate medical attention, he said.
When paramedics arrived, the boy’s brain had been deprived of oxygen for too long, the attorney said.
“All the delays and failures and the rule that you have to call the front desk 911 instead of a teacher’s cell phone, all of those things led to the death of this young man,” Broillet said.
“The family sincerely hopes this doesn’t happen to any other families in the future, and we hope and they believe the school district will improve their training methods so this never happens again,” he said.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-22/lausd-to-pay-9-5-million-to-parents-of-boy-who-died-after-running-laps-in-p-e L.A. schools to pay $9.5 million after boy dies during P.E.